Jeannette Rankin Elementary School

Education design reflecting
community identity

Jeannette Rankin Elementary School

ARCHITECTURE  |   INTERIORS

The design of Jeannette Rankin Elementary School represents the culmination of a three-month workshop with the Missoula County Public Schools district, teachers, students, and school board to determine a shared project vision reflective of stakeholders, users, and the community. A series of interactive exercises identified key projects goals, emphasizing the need for a variety of creative spaces with the adaptability to provide for changing technology, instruction, and curriculum over time. The extensive planning and programming process resulted in a brand new facility with ample space for music and art, STEM labs, breakout learning opportunities, and special education programs, in addition to strong indoor/outdoor connections with plentiful views of the surrounding Blue Mountain Range, Lolo Peak, and Snowbowl. Each grade level is divided into color-coded wings with connected collaborative “nooks,” allowing teachers and students to break free from the restraints of traditional classroom learning.

Jeannette Rankin Elementary School

Education design reflecting community identity

ARCHITECTURE
INTERIORS

The design of Jeannette Rankin Elementary School represents the culmination of a three-month workshop with the Missoula County Public Schools district, teachers, students, and school board to determine a shared project vision reflective of stakeholders, users, and the community. A series of interactive exercises identified key projects goals, emphasizing the need for a variety of creative spaces with the adaptability to provide for changing technology, instruction, and curriculum over time. The extensive planning and programming process resulted in a brand new facility with ample space for music and art, STEM labs, breakout learning opportunities, and special education programs, in addition to strong indoor/outdoor connections with plentiful views of the surrounding Blue Mountain Range, Lolo Peak, and Snowbowl. Each grade level is divided into color-coded wings with connected collaborative “nooks,” allowing teachers and students to break free from the restraints of traditional classroom learning.

Shaping the vision

In a series of meetings and charrettes, the design team explored space adjacency relationships and possible solutions to school organization. Malleable models with movable pieces allowed for flexible demonstration, permitting teachers and other participants to create numerous built environments illustrating various layouts, site orientations, daylighting strategies, and circulation paths.

A place for learning and assembly

The Commons serves as a central organizational element between various learning environments to provide structure to the overall layout. Overlooking outdoor play space and offering a variety of gathering and seating options, the Commons also showcases the Learning Stair, a flexible education and socialization area. A moveable presentation wall at the base of the Stair can be utilized as a projection screen, and recessed during high circulation times.

Designing for the past, present, and future

The new facility replaced the existing, outdated Cold Springs Elementary School, providing the design team with the unique opportunity to preserve the legacy of the original school, yet incorporate contemporary amenities reflective of 21st century learning into the new design. The final concept creates a sense of place where the history of Cold Springs is recognized, while simultaneously transforming the learning experience through innovative educational spaces, encouraging students to understand the past, but seek to define the future.

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